August 15, 2010

Proof Americans shouldn't build Rally Cars

CARS - If you think only Europeans and Asians know how to build a proper rally car, you'd be correct in your assessment. Americans have a tendency to think size and speed before handling and anyone at all familiar with the sport of rally racing will tell you that the bigger you are, the more likely you are to roll and crash.

But try telling that to Americans.

The off-road rally truck shown here slammed into a crowd of Americans, causing bodies to fly everywhere during a rally race in California yesterday (Saturday) night. The crash killed 8 people and injured 12 others.

Now it is true that people do often come out to rally races in the hopes of seeing a crash. Perhaps the Americans organizing the race WANTED to have crashes so that spectators would get what they wanted to see. (The Tour de France has been doing the same thing in recent years, deliberately picking difficult routes so the cyclists will crash and have their careers/lives permanently ruined just for the sake of free press coverage and TV ratings.) Setting these dangerous precedents for the sake of entertainment is rather ridiculous.

And certainly the people showing up to watch the race and possibly see a crash didn't expect to be in the crash and get killed themselves.

So regardless of whether these crashes are deliberate or Americans simply don't know diddly squat about building rally vehicles, 8 people are now dead.

The crash happened early in the race, the California 200, in the Mojave Desert around 8 PM. Due to the remote location it took rescue helicopters and other vehicles over 30 minutes just to reach the crash site. 6 people died on the scene before medics could arrive and another 2 more died in the hospital.

SUVs and trucks may be designed to go off-road, but they're not designed for racing conditions. They can't go around corners properly.

In the case the Prerunner truck had just gone over a jump called "the Rockpile" in the first 2 miles of the race. The truck hit the ground and moments later when the driver tried to turn sharply he rolled the truck right into the crowd of spectators.

When the truck finally stopped moving several people were trapped under the truck. Others were lying in pools of their own blood. People were screaming and some people weren't moving at all. One woman was lying in a pool of blood with a major head wound. Someone else was crushed under the truck.

Spectators managed to push the truck onto its side, freeing the people who were trapped underneath it.

The driver was uninjured and fled the scene, fearing angry spectators who began throwing rocks at him.

There was no guard rails protecting the spectators who were standing a mere 10 feet from the edge of the track. Over 15,000 people were attending the race which includes several jumps, obstacles and the vehicles involved reach 100+ mph speeds.

The crash is just one of many such crashes that happen on a yearly basis in the USA, a culture which is obsessed with speed, size and watching things blow up. Monster trucks, illegal drag races, etc.

A dragster lost control and killed 6 spectators and injured 22 more in Selmer, Tennessee in June 2007. The driver was convicted of "reckless assault".

An illegal drag race on a suburban street in Accokeek, Maryland killed 8 people and injured 5 more in February 2008. The two drivers were convicted of manslaughter.

At Chandler's Firebird International Raceway in Arizona a female spectator was killed by a tire from a crashing dragster in February 2010.

But really these crashes could have been prevented if Americans weren't so obsessed with trying to build big fast machines that can't possibly be driven around a corner or controlled. They're crashes waiting to happen.

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